"Time in Place": Pacific Northwest art highlighted at Hallie Ford
Oscar Calvete Al-Khalidi
Upon entering the Hallie Ford Museum, the Melvin Henderson-Rubio Gallery, in which you will find the “Time in Place” exhibition, is easy to see. The entrance sits at the foot of the museum’s staircase. There is a large plaque introducing you to the exhibition, suggesting that you will gain a greater appreciation for the region, where you are at least temporarily residing . The visitor is encouraged to contemplate the chronology of the region and how time has affected it, the impact of one dimension on another. The Pacific Northwest serves as the backdrop to the collection. Throughout the exhibition, works are displayed as chronological and stylistic snapshots, presenting the region to the spectator in a variety of ways. Within these images, there might be allusions to themes and concepts inside and out of the world of art. Regardless, the backdrop of these pieces remains constant.
This lack of adherence to a singular artistic style creates a space where the visitor might gain a more comprehensive understanding of the exhibition. The variety of the works on display and the string of greater or lesser artistic nuances enables and encourages the spectator not only to appreciate these differences but also to repeatedly reimagine the region through the eyes of the various artists whose work is on display.
The exhibition is sympathetic to the history of the region, introducing artwork from Native American communities as intrinsic to the identity of the collection as well as the land. The collection has been curated in such a way that this is not done dutifully but actually quite passionately. There are various artworks attributed to the wider Native American community in either provenance or style. This should not be regarded as an institutionalized homage, but instead as a well received invitation to a visual presentation of the region. A presentation between a collection of artists that all form part of the region's contemporary community.
The landscapes that make up the bulk of the work on display offer a neutrality or bridge between the artwork from the Native American community and that of the colonial settlers. These scenes enrich the collection, presenting the viewer with a space that is much larger than a series of rooms off of State Street, almost stranding them in order to depict the breadth of the local landscape. An ignorance of the region upon your exit is nigh impermissible. In creating such pieces, the artists are exercising their appreciation for the region. This is a widely unifying concept, that one’s home is beautiful and thus deserves our attention, one which affords the collection its diversity.
It is possible to enjoy this exhibition without a proclivity for hiking, or an acute awareness of environmentalism. Nevertheless, the exhibition very comfortably alludes to similar themes. Going beyond an appreciation for the landscape, there is naturally a criticism of human impact on the land. Images do not shy away from violence or abandonment. The development of the region is to be contemplated as a process over time, and not simply as exploitative but also as potentially meaningful as it is gainful.